195.) Luke 14

January 29, 2010

The Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC.  The table can be extended to seat 64 of your closest friends!  I also like the three walk-in fireplaces, and the priceless 16th century Flemish tapestries on the walls.  Oh, and the photographer is shooting this picture while standing up in the organ loft!

Luke 14 (New International Version)

Jesus at a Pharisee’s House

1One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

5Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6And they had nothing to say.

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from The Merchant of Venice,
by William Shakespeare:

The quality of mercy is not strained.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath.  It is twice blest:

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown.

His scepter shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.

But mercy is above this sceptered sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;

It is an attribute of God himself;

And earthly power doth then show like God’s

When mercy seasons justice.

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7When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’

“Friend, go up higher!”

Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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Proverbs 3:34 (Contemporary English Version)

The LORD sneers at those

who sneer at him,

but he is kind to everyone

who is humble.

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12Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

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“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.”

–Samuel Johnson, in Boswell’s Life of Johnson

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The Parable of the Great Banquet

15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

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“My cup runneth over” by Houston- based artist Diane Nicholls

Psalm 23:5 (King James Version)

Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

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18“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ”

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Jeremiah 31:8 (New Living Translation)

For I will bring them from the north
and from the distant corners of the earth.
I will not forget the blind and lame,
the expectant mothers and women in labor.
A great company will return!

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The Cost of Being a Disciple

REQUIRED READING for every believer!

25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

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“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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28“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

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from My Utmost for His Highest
by Oswald Chambers:

Building for Eternity

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”
–Luke xiv.28

Our Lord refers not to a cost we have to count, but to a cost which He has counted.  The cost was those thirty years in Nazareth, those three years of popularity, scandal and hatred, the deep unfathomable agony in Gethsemane, and the onslaught at Calvary—the pivot upon which the whole of Time and Eternity turns.  Jesus Christ has counted the cost.  Men are not going to laugh at Him at last and say—“This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”

The conditions of discipleship laid down by Our Lord in verses 26, 27, and 33 mean that the men and women He is going to use in His mighty building enterprises are those in whom He has done everything.  “If any man come to Me, and hate not . . . , he cannot be My disciple.” Our Lord implies that the only men and women He will use in his building enterprises are those who love Him personally, passionately, and devotedly beyond any of the closest ties on earth.  The conditions are stern, but they are glorious.

All that we build is going to be inspected by God.  Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own?  These are days of tremendous enterprises, days when we are trying to work for God, and therein is the snare.  Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God.  Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely, and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put.

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31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

34“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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Music:

How to follow Jesus?  Hillsong sings, “With Everything.”

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:

Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion.    http://z.about.com/d/honeymoons/1/5/v/N/BB2.jpg

dew falling on flower.   http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/images/elmerchanttheme02.gif

“Go up higher.”    http://www.worshipworks.com/lectionary_art/YrC_Gif/60lk14_1.gif

Nicholls.    http://artdianenicholls.com/images/my%20cup%20runneth%20over.jpg

The Cost of Discipleship. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41aNWCxaavL._SL500_AA240_.jpg


194.) Luke 13

January 28, 2010

After the earthquake in Haiti, a girl cries.  Were the Haitians worse sinners?  Were they more guilty?  Is the Lord no longer merciful?  Questions like these were put to the Lord . . .

Luke 13 (New International Version)

Repent or Perish

1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

6Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

8” ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”

Zechariah 3:10 (New Living Translation)

“And on that day, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, each of you will invite your neighbor to sit with you peacefully under your own grapevine and fig tree.”

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Music:

I should listen to this song every morning — it would encourage me to the good life of God and put a smile on my face!  Ken Medema sings “Tree Song.”  (The music ends at 6:15 and the screen goes black at 8:15.)

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A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath

10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

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Psalm 6:4   (NRSV)

Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.

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14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

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Banish the bent-over spirits:

memory of red guilt or
a long-ago foolish choice:
wrong marriage or
bitter divorce;
small crimes or
little legal brutalities;
a legion of torment
of additions.
Sexual abuse, manipulation,
domestic violence;
losses of mind, sight,
hearing, mobility,
self-doubt or
its grand mirror—
grandiosity.

Banish the bent-over spirits:

and good things, too:
obsessions now that
began healthy and
twisted a whole life;
professional demands,
creative dreams;
caring for an
ailing, aging parent,
proud-pushing an achieving child;
beautiful homes
shopped to sparkling,
beautiful bodies
jogged-starved to thin;
even church-work
where faith eats
its children.

Banish the bent-over spirits.

My shoulders sink,
and my spine curls
under the weight, while
my eyes turn in until
I cannot recognize
the one who heals.
See me here,
and call me, Christ.
Lay your hands on
the human meaning
beneath distortion.
In spite of a world
that disciplines healing,
in spite of people
who do not want
others well,
say the words
that set me free—

that I may straighten into praise.

from An Improbable Gift of Blessing: Prayers to Nurture the Spirit
by Maren C. Tirabassi and Joan Jordan Grant

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Jeremiah 10:6 (English Standard Version)

There is none like you, O LORD;
you are great, and your name is great in might.

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The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

18Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”

20Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

The Narrow Door

22Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

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from 40 Days to Your Best Life:  A Spiritual Journey to Contentment for Nurses, by Suzanne Tietjen (Honor Books):

The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention.
–Luke 13:24  (the Message)

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine issued a report titled “To Err Is Human,” saying that one in twenty-five hospital patients is harmed by medical errors.  Medical errors are the eighth highest cause of death in the United States, outranking automobile accidents, breast cancer, and HIV/AIDS.  My father, an aerospace engineer—and thus a person with a low tolerance for errors—couldn’t get over this.

“How can this happen?” he asked me.

I told him to imagine himself sitting at the dinner table reaching for the salt when Mom asks him a question.  A moment later he finds himself shaking pepper rather than salt onto his mashed potatoes.  It happens just like that.

Distraction, it turns out, is the root cause of errors about 41 percent of the time.  The health-care world is struggling to find ways to avoid interruptions and concentrate on the task at hand.

Distraction gets me in trouble spiritually as well.  I battle it daily in my prayer life.  I start out talking to God and somehow find myself making a grocery list.  Or I plan to read my Bible, but get caught up in a television show.

Worse still, I have an impulse to call a friend or write a letter, but between the demands of work and home, I forget to do it.  I find myself reacting to life’s interruptions, rather than following God’s leading.  All too human, I can’t maintain my focus on my own.

The apostle Paul talked about having his eye on the goal.  More and more—at work, at home, and in my relationships with God and people—I, too, am asking God to help me pay attention.

One thing at a time.

Focus on the goal.

Eyes on the prize.

His life in me.

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25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem

“Jesus Wept.” Sculpted by Mike Scovel.

31At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

34“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:

Haiti girl crying.   http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01558/HAITI-GIRL_1558332c.jpg

fig tree.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/Fig_tree.jpg

bent-over woman.     http://parisparfait.typepad.com/paris_parfait/images/2007/08/31/beggarwoman.jpg

woman kneading dough.    http://www.stfrancisparish.com/Graphics/bread_baking2.jpg

salt and pepper.    http://www.made-in-china.com/image/2f0j00RaQEOftBITdFM/Salt-and-Pepper-Bottle.jpg

Scovel.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_QbrZupV_Q-k/SbXGVlxvWCI/AAAAAAAACgU/_fo2oBcVnt4/s1600-h/wept.jpg


193.) Luke 12

January 27, 2010

“The Rich Fool” by Rembrandt, 1627 (Gemaldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen, Berlin)

Luke 12 (New International Version)

Warnings and Encouragements

1Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

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Reflections on Hypocrisy:

Sincerity makes the least man to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite.
–Charles Spurgeon

Where there is no religion, hypocrisy becomes good taste.
–George Bernard Shaw

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2There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

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Daniel 2:22 (New Living Translation)

He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he is surrounded by light.

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4“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

Psalm 50:11 (English Standard Version)

I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

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7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

8“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. 10And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

11“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

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Music:

The opposite point of view from the rich fool.  (See also verse 31 below.)   “Here I Am, Living for Your Glory”  by Tim Hughes.

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Do Not Worry

22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27“Consider how the lilies grow.

They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

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Proverbs 21:21 (English Standard Version)

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.

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32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

A poor substitute for a grace-filled life!

Watchfulness

35“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Be ready — for when will YOUR end come?

41Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Not Peace but Division

49“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Interpreting the Times

54He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56Hypocrites!

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Further Reflections on Hypocrisy:

A hypocrite never intends to be what he pretends to be.
–Anonymous


Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes a-begging.
–Martin Luther

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You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

57“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:

Rembrandt.   http://d1shzm2uca9f83.cloudfront.net/large/rembrandt_rijkedwaas.jpg

sparrow.     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_C8K5LE9vIos/SvG2n3GukpI/AAAAAAAACmk/RumJF7ylLOI/s400/Sparrow+2.jpg

rich fool.   http://wordofloveforyou.com/r1.jpg

daylilies.    http://www.mysticmeadowsdaylily.com/images/Daylilies06.jpg

most toys.  http://www.accentgifts.co.nz/files/1515475/uploaded/Most%20Toys.jpg

question mark clock.    http://fallout3.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/ist2_3102707-question-mark-clock.jpg

Timothy Botts calligraphy.    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_sb3cCBsDDDs/SHfuIyeNNFI/AAAAAAAADUQ/U4XQtqiHGRU/LUKE12-48.jpg


192.) Luke 11:29 – 54

January 26, 2010

Take my eyes and let them be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Luke 11:29-54 (New International Version)

The Sign of Jonah

"Jonah and the Whale" by Salvador Dali, 1975.

29As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. 30For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

The Lamp of the Body

33“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

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Music:

An enlargement of an old Sunday School song I used to sing — “Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see.”  Casting Crowns does “Slow Fade.”  All of us who have at times walked away from the light of Truth know how important it is to be on our guard, as Jesus warns us.

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Six Woes

37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

39Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish  to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

42Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

What would God prefer from you -- mint leaves, or justice?

43Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

44Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”

45One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”

46Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

And sometimes the inner burdens are even heavier than a refrigerator . . .

47Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. 48So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world,

"Cain and Abel" by Vecellio Tiziano, 1544 (Santa Maria della Salute, Venice)

51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

_________________________

Reflection:

“From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.”

With these words Jesus confirms his witness to the extent of the Old Testament canon.   Abel was the first martyr recorded in Scripture (Genesis 4:8) and Zechariah the last martyr to be named in the Hebrew Old Testament order. Abel’s form of sacrifice  prefigured Christ’s, and Zechariah was stoned while prophesying to the people “in the court of the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 24:21). Genesis was the first book in the Hebrew canon and 2 Chronicles the last.  Jesus was basically saying “Genesis to Chronicles,” or according to our order, Genesis to Malachi, thereby confirming the divine authority and inspiration of the entire Hebrew canon.

I have never understood people who do not want to study the Old Testament; it was the only Scripture that Jesus had!

_________________________

52Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

53When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54waiting to catch him in something he might say.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:

eye doctor with chart.    http://www.hickmanfamily.us/images/misc/eye_doctor_point_chart_hg_wht.gif

Dali.   http://www.skotforeman.com/images/photos/dali_jonah_and_the_whale.jpg

man wearing glasses.    http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/photos/Europe_2008-7.jpg

mint leaves.    http://expat21.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/mint-leaves.jpg

all about me.    http://andybraner.typepad.com/.a/6a00e54ed0df528833012875d892ed970c-800wi

man carrying a refrigerator on his back.   http://miramade.com/images/carring%20refrigerator.jpg

Tiziano.  http://www.wga.hu/art/t/tiziano/01b/4cain.jpg

Old Testament cartoon.   http://www.toonpool.com/user/589/files/old_testament_242255.jpg

key to knowledge.    http://wealthwisdomandsuccess.com/ilearningglobal/


191.) Luke 11:1 – 28

January 25, 2010

“Le Pater Noster” watercolor by James Tissot, 1890 (Brooklyn Museum, New York)

Luke 11:1-28 (New International Version)

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2He said to them, “When you pray, say:

” ‘Father,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come.

3Give us each day our daily bread.

4Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

And lead us not into temptation.’ “

_________________________

Music:

The Lord’s Prayer in a song called “Millennium Prayer” sung by British Christian artist and rock star Sir Cliff Richard.

_________________________

I do not say that I understand everything the poet is saying — but what I do understand makes me long to pray more — beside the manger, at the foot of the cross, at the door of the empty tomb.  Each is a place where we can pray. . .

The Wise Men

by G. K. Chesterton.

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray,
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore,
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know the labyrinthine lore,
We are the three Wise Men of yore,
And we know all things but the truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And serve the made gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of visions and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly… it has hailed and snowed…
With voices low and lanterns lit,
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun—
(… We need but walk a little way …
We need but see a latch undone …)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where tricks of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honor is as hard as stone.

Go humbly; humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star,
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain,
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes
For God himself is born again
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

_________________________

5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

7“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

“The Insistant Friend”  from “Vie de Jesus MAFA”

9“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

_________________________

Psalm 105:4   (NRSV)

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.

_________________________

11“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus and Beelzebub

14Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

17Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.

_________________________

–from an address given by Abraham Lincoln (who would later become President of the United States) on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, upon accepting the Illinois Republican party’s nomination as that state’s United States senator.  He lost the race to Stephen Douglas.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

_________________________

18If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. 19Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

21“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.

23“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

24“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

28He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

_________________________

Psalm 119:57 (New International Version)

You are my portion, O LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:

Tissot.    http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4531/The_Lords_Prayer_%28Le_Pater_Noster%29/image/9304/overall

Names of Jesus.   http://www.carvedfish.com/images/inspirational/names_of_jesus.jpg

kingdom come.     http://www.poemcards.biz/your%20kingdom%20come.jpg

croissant sandwich.    http://www.maddiesplace.net/images/croissant_sandwich.jpg

crown of thorns.    http://www.penielfacetoface.com/home/sites/default/files/images/crownofthorns.jpg

temptation cartoon.   http://pdbb.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/temptation.jpg

“Insistant Friend.”    http://www.jesusmafa.com/anglais/imag33.htm

Abraham Lincoln.    http://wpcontent.answers.com/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4f/Abe_Lincoln_young.jpg/180px-Abe_Lincoln_young.jpg

Trust and obey.    http://www.wonderfulway.net/trust_and_obey_jr.gif


190.) Luke 10:25 – 42

January 22, 2010

“The Good Samaritan” by Vincent van Gogh, 1890 (Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo,  Netherlands)

Luke 10:25-42 (New International Version)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

“The Good Samaritan”  by Eric de Saussure, 1968

30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

“The Good Samaritan” by He Qi

Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“The Good Samaritan”  by Rembrandt, 1630 (Wallace Collection, London)

36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

_________________________

from The Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts, by Clarence Jordan (1969).

Dr. Jordan (1912 – 1969) founded Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, a pioneering interracial farming community in the deep South.  He held a B.S. in agriculture and a Ph.D. in New Testament Greek.

One day a teacher of an adult Bible class got up and tested him with this question: “Doctor, what does one do to be saved?”

Jesus replied, “What does the Bible say? How do you interpret it?”

The teacher answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your physical strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

“That is correct,” answered Jesus. “Make a habit of this and you’ll be saved.”

But the Sunday school teacher, trying to save face, asked, “But … er … but … just who is my neighbor?”


Then Jesus laid into him and said, “A man was going from Atlanta to Albany and some gangsters held him up. When they had robbed him of his wallet and brand-new suit, they beat him up and drove off in his car, leaving him unconscious on the shoulder of the highway.

“Now it just so happened that a white preacher was going down that same highway. When he saw the fellow, he stepped on the gas and went scooting by.

“Shortly afterwards a white Gospel song leader came down the road, and when he saw what had happened, he too stepped on the gas.

“Then a black man traveling that way came upon the fellow, and what he saw moved him to tears. He stopped and bound up his wounds as best he could, drew some water from his water-jug to wipe away the blood and then laid him on the back seat.

He drove on into Albany and took him to the hospital and said to the nurse, ‘You all take good care of this white man I found on the highway. Here’s the only two dollars I got, but you all keep account of what he owes, and if he can’t pay it, I’ll settle up with you when I make a pay-day.’

“Now if you had been the man held up by the gangsters, which of these three—the white preacher, the white song leader, or the black man—would you consider to have been your neighbor?”

The teacher of the adult Bible class said, “Why, of course, the nig—I mean, er … well, er … the one who treated me kindly.”

Jesus said, “Well, then, you get going and start living like that!”

_________________________

Music:

The story, retold —

_________________________

At the Home of Martha and Mary

“Martha Preparing Dinner for Jesus” by Pieter Aertsen

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

_________________________

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Martha was cumbered about much serving.”
— Luke x. 40

Her fault was not that she served:  the condition of a servant well becomes every Christian.  Nor was the fault that she had “much serving.”  We cannot do too much.  Let us do all that we possibly can; let head, and heart, and hands, be engaged in the Master’s service.  It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master.  Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement.  Her fault was that she grew “cumbered with much serving,” so that she forgot Him, and only remembered the service.  She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another.

We ought to be Martha and Mary in one:  we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time.  For this we need great grace.  It is easier to serve than to commune.  Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands.  The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it.

Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus.  See to it that sitting at the Saviour’s feet is not neglected, even through it be under the specious pretext of doing Him service.  The first thing for our soul’s health, the first thing for His glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our religion is maintained over and above everything else in the world.

_________________________

41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

_________________________

Psalm 27:4 (English Standard Version)

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:

Van Gogh.    http://www.abcgallery.com/V/vangogh/vangogh56.html

de Saussure.    http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Luk-10,25_Parable_Good_Samaritan_Bon_Samaritain/20%20DE%20SAUSSURE%20LE%20SAMARITAIN%2001.jpg

He Qi.  http://www.heqigallery.com/gallery/gallery3/images/5-GoodSamaritan.jpg

Rembrandt.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_033.jpg

Cotton Patch book cover.     http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513253ZSE0L._SL500_AA240_.jpg

Good Samaritan in blacka nd white.    http://www.painsley.org.uk/re/signposts/y7/2-1jesus/Image94.gif

Good Samaritan sketch.    http://static.squidoo.com/resize/squidoo_images/-1/draft_lens7241282module59822662photo_1258238877goodsamaritan.jpg

Aertsen.  http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/73581/marthapreparingdinnerforjesus

the number 1.    http://www.hcsb.k12.fl.us/ees/images/stories/ClipArt/one.jpg

 


189.) Luke 10:1 – 24

January 21, 2010

And Jesus said, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” — John 4:35 (English Standard Version)

Luke 10:1-24 (New International Version)

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-two

1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

_________________________

1 Chronicles 22:16   (NRSV)

Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.

_________________________

4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.

7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

8“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ 12I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

13“Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.

16“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Zechariah 2:8  (NRSV)

One who touches you touches the apple of my eye.

_________________________

The Seventy-two Return

17The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

18He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

_________________________

from My Utmost for His Highest,  by Oswald Chambers:

“Nothwithstanding in this rejoice not . . . , but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
–Luke x. 19,20.

Jesus Christ says, in effect, Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me.  The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you.  You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ.  Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it.

The tendency today is to put the emphasis on service.  Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal.  If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived.  The lodestar of the saint is God Himself, not estimated usefulness.  It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him.  All that Our Lord heeds in a person’s life is the relationship of worth to His Father.  Jesus is bringing many sons and daughters to glory.

_________________________

21At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

22“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

“Open my eyes, Lord.  I want to see Jesus.”

23Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

_________________________

1 Peter 1:10-12 (New Living Translation)

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you.  They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

_________________________

Music:

“Open my eyes that I might see . . . ”  Written by Clara H. Scott in 1895.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:

world map.    http://igcministries.org/images/WorldMap.gif

Peace to this house.    http://www.giz-mos-gad-gets.com/project-images/Peace-to-this-house-3.jpg

apple of my eye.    http://rookery2.worth1000.com/storagev12/1047500/1047720_64da_625x1000.jpg

child of God.    http://imagecache5.art.com/p/LRG/9/954/W59K000Z/stephanie-marrott-i-am-a-child-of-god.jpg

eyes.   http://beaut.ie/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/eyes.jpg